5 Trends Transforming Project Management

Project management is no more immune to sweeping changes in the workplace than any other aspect of business and technology. In fact, it can be argued that project managers (and the teams they lead) must be more sensitive to emerging trends, in order to stay ahead of developments that can affect the companies where they work.

Here’s a look at key project management trends already underway in 2016 and expected to continue into 2017 and beyond.

  1. Long-range strategy takes precedence over individual projects.

Traditionally, project management emphasized completion of individual projects aligned with short-term business objectives. With sharp increases in competition for market share, as well as finite resources of time and money, there’s a new emphasis on long-range thinking in project management. How can project management teams determine the best ways to achieve overall strategic goals?

One answer, according to veteran project manager Moira Alexander, is selecting individuals “for goal-centric projects based on their high-value core strengths in relation to business requirements, instead of selecting project team members in the traditional style of departmental representation.”

Obviously, this requires a shift in thinking among project managers to look at the company’s big picture, rather than just a single department’s needs and objectives.

  1. Shifts in hierarchical thinking that emphasizes a free flow of ideas.

Speaking of shifts in thinking, project managers will be called upon to move beyond operational hierarchies in order to take advantage of individual employee talents and knowledge throughout the company. Too many large companies still adhere to a “top-down” approach, insisting that strategic and creative insights can only come from senior-level executives. Forward-thinking leaders and project managers understand the best results come from an unrestricted flow of ideas throughout the organization, including those emerging from individuals with diverse cultural backgrounds.

  1. A growing need to develop soft skills, in additional to technical training in project management. Increasingly, project managers and their teams need to excel in the following areas in order to better manage individual and group interactions:
  • Written skills
  • Verbal skills
  • The art of active listening
  1. Ongoing challenge of entering into the profession of project management.

Those endeavoring to become project managers continue to face a challenge in landing their first project management position. “Employers demand experience,” notes Duncan Haughey of Project Smart. “Most are reluctant to take on inexperienced project managers,” he adds, suggesting there’s “no easy answer or formula to entering the profession.”

Achieving project management certification, such as Project Manager Professional (PMP) certification or Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM), remains an essential first step for all aspiring to become project managers. Such qualifications, Haughey adds, “show a willingness to advance in the profession” — making oneself a more attractive candidate in the eyes of employers.

  1. Increased reliance on remote workers and collaboration in the cloud.

As employees become more mobile and geographically dispersed, there will be greater emphasis than ever before on collaboration in the cloud. Remote employees working as part of a project management team must be diligent in maintaining strict security policies and procedures, as well as proficient in virtual meeting protocol.

The ability to think on your feet and anticipate the unexpected are also increasingly sought-after skills in remote employees. Being able to troubleshoot and address technology disruptions on their own will make such employees extremely desirable in the view of potential employers.

Businesses that pay attention to these trends will likely see more productive and efficient project management in the weeks and months to come.